My Checkbook

checkbook-800pxI lost my checkbook.

Again!

The book knows it belongs in the desk drawer – but when I checked, it was not there. So I looked on the kitchen counter. The counter is where our lost things are supposed to wait until we can find them – but it was not there either.

Losing patience, I yelled across the house, “Honey, do you know where the checkbook is?”

“Your book or the joint account?” she yelled back.

“Either.”

“No, I don’t.”

Really?

“What do you need it for?”

“The tractor chewed up a belt and the implement dealer doesn’t take plastic.”

“Go someplace else.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“I already have the belt.”

It is how business is done around here.

When I pulled out my credit card to pay for the belt, the parts guy gave me a nasty look and tapped a sign clearly visible on the counter.  It read: Cash or Check Only.

A couple of old guys who came in for free coffee also gave me the same look. I felt like an idiot for not noticing the sign. They wanted to make sure I felt that way.

The parts guy looked tough but in reality he was a softy.  He reminded me that both the dealership and I save money by avoiding a credit card fee, then added that he knew who I was and I could pay him later.

The thing is, it is unsettling that he knew who I was because I didn’t know him from beans.  Maybe he knows my in-laws.  Everyone around here does – and because of that, even though he does not know me directly, he knows he can trust me.

This was Saturday – which left the entire weekend to find the checkbook. Not nearly enough time for me.

Which brings me back to checks.

It has been a long time since I wrote one.  I pay for all the little purchases with plastic and the regular household bills pay themselves automatically.  Gone are the bad old days when we had to meticulous maintain a check register and God help us if a service fee bumped us into an overdraft.

Now it is all so convenient.

It is so convenient that I never balance my checkbook. When I forget how much money I have, I use the phone to check the balance and if I make a mistake, I have overdraft protection for the very reasonable interest rate of 21%.

Because it is so convenient, I only tally the big purchases and ignore the little ones – so I always overdraw my account.  It is the way it goes. The system is kinda designed to make sure that happens – but it is not a problem because like the parts guy, my bank trusts me.

What is shocking is that even though they know I always repay them, they still consider me a dead-beat.  

To understand their logic, you have to understand banks.
 
In banking everything is reversed: debits are credits and credits are debits – and people who reliably pay off their credit card balances every month are called deadbeats because the bank doesn’t make money on them. There is nothing so frustrating to a banker as a person with money – who refuses to borrow.

Like the parts guy, my bank doesn’t know me directly, only through statistical analysis – which tells them that I immediately pay back what I borrow – so they keep enticing me to borrow more than I can immediately repay.

So several times a month they send me a credit come-on – and get this: it includes checks.

The checks are filled out with my name and address just like the checks in my register – but my checks spends my money, their checks spend theirs – and they charge me 21% for it.

But if my bank really knew me, they would not send checks – because I never remember where I put them.

Author: Almost Iowa

www.almostiowa.com

37 thoughts on “My Checkbook”

    1. When I tried to give him one of those checks, the parts guy tapped another sign on the counter. It read, “NO STUPID CREDIT CARD COME-ON CHECKS – GO HOME AND LOOK HARDER FOR YOUR CHECKBOOK!!”

  1. I promise I don’t have your checkbook. But I know where mine is, because I use it all the time, and carry it with me. No online banking for this gal. No automatic payments, etc. etc. I write checks. I even write a check a week for cash. No ATM or debit cards, either.

    Of course I buy from Amazon, and I use a credit card at the gas pump. Otherwise? I’m little Ms. Paper Trail. I’m keeping a metaphor alive, very nearly by myself.

    1. Oh, it will turn up soon. You will find it in the drawer, on the kitchen counter, on an end-table and in your toolbox. It will appear almost everywhere – until you need it.

  2. Almost everyone we do business with in our rural area is like the parts guy and I like it that way. So easy to get stuff done.

  3. Our checkbook is still active and the firm control of the Mrs. I can’t remember the last time I wrote a check, but I’m sure I used three in the process of getting one right. These days, even when I need a check, my wife fills it out for me. then I carry it in my wallet until it looks like a soft rag and I give it to someone.

  4. We just got back from Iowa (almost Minnesota) I was hearing things about generations back! My kin and some poor folks who moved into this area. And this was from my quiet cousin. I should call him, he probably knows where the checkbooks are. They never ask you directly about things so the conversation would probably go ” so have you written any checks lately?”

  5. What’s a checkbook? What’s cash? It’s a good story and cash/check only is part of the reason Mom/Pop stores see declining business. It’s quaint and might work in small towns, but sooner or later customer-convenient payment methods will prevail.

    PS for security purposes, we requested that our credit card companies and banks NOT send us ‘those’ checks, and they have stopped.

    1. My son operates a small organic distillery (whisky and gin). Last month, he opened a tap-room in the space. I was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to set up a Point-of-sale system on a small tablet computer.

      Yeah, I hang out there a lot.

        1. He is in Northfield. It’s a college town about forty miles south of the Twin Cities. Its claim to fame is that Jesse James tried to rob their bank and it didn’t work out so well for him and his gang.

  6. Once I find the checkbook and chase the spiders from under the cracked leather cover, I end up ruining the first two checks with pens that run out of ink after the month and the first digit of the day on the date line. I finally have to go back to my rarely used desk and scrounge another Bic black from the pack. The 27 other Bic blacks I left on the end table in the living room in the past month have disappeared. “Honey, where’s the pen that was on the end table?” Guess what the response has been for the last 27 times I asked the question.

  7. I can hear the Parts Guy several months from now. Since you’re getting on in years, you forgot to pay for the belt. It was an honest mistake. Happens to me all the time. It took you a week to find the check book, then you couldn’t remember why you were looking for it in the first place.

    You go into the Parts Store to get a whatchamacallit. The Parts Guy takes one good look at you. Calls his buddy, Parts Guy # 2, “Hey, Henry, he’s here.”

    “You sure it’s him?”

    “‘Course it’s him. He’s got dumb look on his face.”

    Henry comes out from the back with a shotgun. “Hey, deadbeat.”

    You get home and your loving wife asks, “What is that on the backside of your pants, hon?”

    “Buck shot.”

    Moral of the story: Find that checkbook.

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